Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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August 19, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Syria Conducts Missile Tests - Yuval Azoulay (Ha'aretz)
    Syria recently test launched a series of surface-to-surface missiles, Channel 2 news reported Monday. The tests were detected by Israel's radar systems.
    Syria has some 1,000 Scud missiles with a range of 300 to 700 kms., capable of striking targets anywhere in Israel. The missiles can be fitted with chemical warheads.

Man Linked to Toronto Terror Cell Convicted in Britain - Colin Freeze (Globe and Mail-Canada)
    A British terrorism suspect with links to a Canadian terror cell was convicted Monday of being a walking terrorist library.
    Aabid Khan was convicted by a British jury for possessing a plethora of terrorist how-to manuals, such as The Mujahedeen Explosives Handbook.
    Khan is related by marriage to the ringleader of a terrorist conspiracy, thwarted in 2006, that involved a plot to trigger simultaneous truck bombings in downtown Toronto.

Israel Using New Non-Lethal Crowd Dispersal Measure (AFP)
    Dozens of Palestinians from the village of Bilin, along with international and Israeli activists, had marched to a nearby segment of Israel's separation barrier to demand its removal, just as they have done every Friday for the last three and a half years.
    The Palestinian protestors expected tear gas and rubber bullets; what they got instead was a putrid yellow wind sprayed from a truck-mounted cannon over the heads of the crowd, Israel's newest weapon against West Bank demonstrators.
    "It's the start of a change in tactics in dealing with crowd control and dispersing violent demonstrations and violent instances," Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP. "It protects the protestors because it doesn't require us to use tear gas and rubber bullets."
    Rosenfeld insisted the pungent mixture is not dangerous. "It's not a chemical, it is a smelling liquid. It doesn't cause any harm or any physical damage whatsoever, even if it gets in people's eyes."

For Uganda's Orphans, Israelis Provide a Shining Light - Jonathan Pulik (JTA)
    Started last year by an oncology intern from Tel Aviv who was volunteering in Uganda with the Israel-based humanitarian aid organization Brit Olam, the Little Light Children's Center is filled with AIDS orphans, children who are disabled and disfigured, and regular kids from the slums.
    ''We decided to invest in young children with no place to go, nourish them and prepare them for school,'' says the physician, Shiri Tenenboim, who has since returned to Israel where she helps manage the school's administration and fund-raising efforts.
    Along with a steady stream of Israeli volunteers, the kindergarten is run by Qasasa Ayeha, a resident of the slums, a devout Muslim, and a diehard fan of Israel's Maccabi Haifa soccer club.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Offers to Help Muslim Countries Launch Satellites; Satellite Rocket Launch Fails - Nazila Fathi and Thom Shanker
    A day after Iran declared that it had test fired a new rocket capable of launching a satellite, the country said Monday that it was prepared to help other Muslim countries send up satellites. However, military officials in Washington have concluded that Sunday's Iranian missile launching was a failure. The first stage of the missile performed successfully, but the second stage flew off wildly, destroying the top of the missile and its nose cone. (New York Times)
  • Activists' Boats Headed for Gaza to Be Treated as "Pirates" - Carolynne Wheeler
    The organizers of two boats carrying protesters campaigning against Israel's economic sanctions on Gaza have been warned that any attempt to approach Gaza coastal waters would be interpreted as assistance to a terrorist regime. Israel has offered help in delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza via land borders instead. "From my point of view this is some kind of pirate ship," said Shlomo Dror, a defense ministry spokesman. "You can demonstrate, that's OK with us. But you are not allowed to break international law."
        Gaza has been subject to economic sanctions since Hamas violently wrested control there in June 2007. Hamas has refused to recognize Israel and renounce violence. Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, Israel retained military control of Gaza's territorial waters. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Rice Set for Another Mideast Visit
    U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will visit the Middle East next week in another attempt to achieve progress towards an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, officials said on Monday. "She is coming on the 25th and 26th of August for a series of trilateral and bilateral meetings," Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said. An Israeli Foreign Ministry official confirmed the dates. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Absorbs 75 New Immigrants from Georgia - Yael Branovsky
    A total of 75 new immigrants arrived in Israel last week from Georgia, with most of them settling in Bat Yam and Ashdod. According to the Jewish Agency, some 120 additional Georgians are preparing to immigrate in the coming months. (Ynet News)
  • Beijing Ceremony Honors Israeli Athletes Slain at Munich Olympics in 1972 - Uzi Dann
    A memorial ceremony was held Monday in Beijing to honor the 11 Israeli athletes who were murdered in a Palestinian terror attack at the 1972 Munich Olympics. The ceremony was organized by the Israeli Embassy and the Israel Olympic Committee. A significant number of foreign delegates, military attaches and Olympic officials were in attendance.
        On September 4, 1972, 10 Israeli athletes and a coach were taken hostage by Black September, a Palestinian terrorist group with ties to Fatah. On September 6, after West German police botched the rescue attempt, the group killed all of the hostages. Memorial ceremonies have been held at every Olympics since the 2000 Games in Sydney, organized by Israeli authorities. (Ha'aretz)
  • Prisoner Release Does Nothing for Abbas - Khaled Abu Toameh
    It's hard to find one Palestinian who regards Israel's decision to release some 200 Palestinian prisoners as a "goodwill gesture." It's also hard to see how the release of the prisoners would "boost" the popularity of Mahmoud Abbas. The argument that the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails strengthens the "moderates" has never proven to be correct. The best way to strengthen the "moderates" is by putting pressure on them to reform the PA and end financial corruption and lawlessness in the West Bank.
        Shortly after the signing of the Oslo Accords, Israel freed hundreds of Fatah security prisoners, many of whom soon became involved in various criminal activities ranging from armed robbery and extortion to theft and arms trafficking. They also became a financial burden to the PA, which had to put the local "heroes" on its payroll and pay them salaries, although many of them did no work. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Iran's Ticking Bomb - Moshe Dann
    Dr. Shmuel Bar, Director of Studies at the Institute for Policy and Strategy of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel, is an expert on Iran and Islam, with over 30 years experience working with Israel's intelligence community. According to Bar, forget everything you know about reason and logic when it comes to Iran. There is a little man in Tehran who talks to "the hidden Imam" - a mystical messianic-like figure. "It's not only, or necessarily Ahmadinejad who speaks to the Imam," Bar says. "There's a whole new second generation elite of the Revolutionary Guard who indoctrinate their troops with the belief in the need to hasten the advent of the Imam. This has also spread to Hizbullah in Lebanon."
        Ahmadinejad "is not Hitler," Bar insists. "He represents a larger elite and wider trend. Hence he is more dangerous, since even if he were to disappear through elections or other means, the trend he represents would remain strong. This is in contrast to Hitler who, had he disappeared even as late as 1939, there is great doubt that World War II would have occurred." "The need for the Imam's loyalists to have the strategic upper hand is a necessary condition for his appearance. The upper hand can only be achieved through possession of nuclear weapons." (History News Network)
  • Pakistan's "Islamic Bomb" Casts a Long Shadow - Yaakov Lappin
    The resignation of Pakistani President Musharraf on Monday has reignited concerns among some security analysts who say the prospect of an Islamist revolution in Pakistan - the world's sole nuclear-armed Muslim state - keeps them up at night. Dr. Ely Karmon, an expert on Islamist movements and their drive to obtain weapons of mass destruction, says radical Pakistani Islamists have set themselves the goal of gaining access to Pakistan's estimated 80 to 90 nuclear bombs, an arsenal they call "the Islamic bomb." "Pakistan does not control parts of its territory. There are tribes allied to the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and very significant Islamist movements consisting of hundreds of thousands of members," Karmon said. "These are no less extreme than al-Qaeda itself." Furthermore, the Pakistani army "has been infiltrated by Islamists," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Growing Up in the Paris of the Middle East - Interview by Deborah Solomon
    Brigitte Gabriel is a Lebanese-Christian immigrant who spent her girlhood amid the bloody devastation of the Lebanese civil war.
    Q: Are you concerned that your new book, They Must Be Stopped, will feed animosity toward Muslims?
    Gabriel: I do not think I am feeding animosity. I am bringing an issue to light. I disapprove of any religion that calls for the killing of other people.
    Q: Why don't you write about the moderate Muslims?
    Gabriel: The moderate Muslims at this point are truly irrelevant. I grew up in the Paris of the Middle East, and because we refused to read the writing on the wall, we lost our country to Hizbullah and the radicals who are now controlling it.
    Q: You write about the Muslim presence in America and bemoan the rise of Islamic day schools and jihad summer camps. Is there really such a thing?
    Gabriel: Yes. Instead of taking lessons on swimming and gymnastics, the kids are listening to speakers give lectures titled "Preparation for Death" and "The Life in the Grave."
    Q: You also lament the public foot baths that have been installed at the University of Michigan and elsewhere to accommodate Muslim students.
    Gabriel: I lived in the Middle East for the first 24 years of my life. Never once did I see any foot-washing basins in airports or public buildings. So why are they pushing them down the throats of Americans? (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    Israel's Grand Strategy - Barry Rubin (Jerusalem Post)

    • Israel is facing threats on four fronts. To the north is Hizbullah, a radical Islamist group which will never accept Israel's existence. Hizbullah's top priority is securing the bulk of power within Lebanon and doing well in next May's election. Fighting Israel right now is a distraction from that goal. With Hizbullah part of the Lebanese government, Israel has warned that any aggression will result in all of Lebanon being a target. Israel's deterrence on this front should not be underestimated, and it is likely to remain relatively quiet for a while.
    • To the northeast is Syria, with whom the Israeli government is currently negotiating. Virtually no one in the leadership expects an agreement. The attack on Syria's nuclear installation signaled Damascus that Israel can hit it hard if necessary.
    • Regarding the PA, Israel wants to see Fatah remain in power: Hamas would be worse, and the PA does do a bit to block terrorism. Here, there is little illusion about possible peace and no better real alternative than maintaining the status quo.
    • The Hamas front in Gaza is the most potentially volatile. Hamas frequently violates the cease-fire, but at a low level. Virtually nobody thinks Hamas will make peace or even a long-term, reliable cease-fire. Yet again, the status quo is about the best that can be accomplished.
    • There is no solution; the enemy is not going away, nor will it moderate. The world wants to hear that Israel is seeking peace and doing everything possible, and it will. Yet while attacks can be deterred, reduced in number and made less effective, actual peace is beyond reach.

      The writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal.

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